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Two-pin plugs – it’s just not British

Two-pin plug

Have you ever been sent a household appliance with a two-pin plug – the type you’d find on mainland Europe? We’ve heard from a number of people who have – little do they know that this is against the law.

It’s actually illegal for UK retailers to sell most domestic electrical products (not for example shavers, electric toothbrushes or items with rcd plugs) with two-pin plugs under the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994. Most domestic appliances must be fitted with an approved three-pin British plug or an approved conversion plug.

Plugs – when two-pins aren’t enough

We wanted to dig deeper to see how widespread this problem was. So we surveyed 1,321 Which? members and found that one in 20 had bought a product online that came with an incorrect plug. A third of those were Amazon (including its Marketplace) customers.

We asked Amazon about this and it pointed us to its returns policy. And although this is fairly generous (30 days for any items sold by, or fulfilled by, Amazon), the policy doesn’t address the fact that sending these items in the first place is in breach of two sets of regulations. These are the Plugs regulations mentioned before and the Sale of Goods Act. If you receive an item with a two-pin plug, you can reject it as unfit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act. We’ll be taking this up with Amazon to find out what it’s planning to do to prevent this.

In the meantime, is this something that’s ever happened to you? What sort of appliance did you get with a two-pin plug, and did you have any luck getting it changed for a model with a three-pin British plug?

[UPDATE APRIL 2014] – due to the volume of comments made here we got in touch with Amazon to ask about the problem of products with two-pin plugs being sold on its website:

“At Amazon, we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience. All sellers on Amazon Marketplace must adhere to our selling guidelines. Any seller found to contravene those guidelines will be subject to action from Amazon including removal of product listings and their account. The Amazon A-to-z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from Amazon.co.uk’s third party Marketplace and if a customer received the item, but the item was defective, damaged, or not the item depicted in the seller’s description, we will refund or replace that item. For more information on our A-to-Z Guarantee please visit our website.”


I ordered an Anker docking station from Amazon. (Fulfilled by Amazon, not the marketplace). It arrived yesterday and, on opening I discovered it didn’t have a UK plug. As this item required power to work it meant that I couldn’t use it by itself.
Contacted Amazon – they told me that – firstly this was ‘as described’ – I pointed out that the UK regulations require electrical goods to have a UK plug. Amazon also stated that I should contact the manufacturer – I advised that they were the seller and they were responsible. They then advised that I should buy a plug (they offered to knock 5% off the order price for this) – I didn’t know what plug to buy and was concerned that that may invalidate any warranty.
They offered a full refund, which I took. But they didn’t appear to acknowledge that this was an issue. I am concerned that they can sell goods without at least advising customers that they needed another item to make it work. I also think they they should have supplied a plug. When I contacted them I expected an apology and a promise that they would send out the missing plug. I’d have been happy to wait a few days. Instead I spent one hour on Amazon Chat, sent back an item I actually wanted and have no motivation for considering an alternative. A hundred pound item and they don’t supply a plug, REALLY!
It is sad that this article is dated six years ago but this still appears to be an issue.

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You should not have to acquire and fit a plug yourself when buying an electrical product. So long as they can get away with a refund Amazon will not address this issue, but a refund is not what customers want – they want a working compliant product as ordered.

Which? should hang its head in shame over its failure to sort this problem out with Amazon. Until it is resolved there should be no more favourable mentions of Amazon in any Which? publications and the reason should be clearly publicised.

@patrick Patrick – Here is another case of Amazon (rather than a Marketplace trader) not complying with the law. Please could Which? contact Trading Standards and keep up the pressure until action has been taken. As I’ve said before, this is not just a matter of convenience but a safety issue, although most people are not aware of this. Now that product safety is clearly part of the remit of Which?, we need to see action.

Hi Wavechange, thanks for sharing. We have just published a story on action we’ve forced from Amazon and Ebay to remove dangerous products from their online listings:

Carbon monoxide alarms bought from Amazon and Ebay have repeatedly failed to detect the killer gas in recent Which? lab tests and would be potentially lethal in your home if there were to be a build-up of carbon monoxide. Based on the terrifying test results we’ve seen, we have no hesitation in making all four models Don’t Buys.

When we raised our concerns with Amazon and Ebay, the two sites removed the listings for the alarms that had failed our tests. Both sites also removed another 50 alarms that look identical to the unbranded alarms – this is because our test results this year, and in 2016, lead us to believe they cannot be trusted to detect CO. Amazon told us that sellers need to follow its guidelines or face having their accounts removed. Ebay said customer safety is its number one priority and it works with Trading Standards to ensure only lawful products are listed.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:

‘It’s extremely concerning that these unsafe alarms were being sold by major retailers, and anyone who has one of these alarms should replace it straight away. ‘When household names such as Amazon and Ebay are selling products that could put consumers at risk, it is clear more must be done by businesses and the Government to proactively identify potentially dangerous products and stop them from entering people’s homes.’


There’s other work we’re doing on this behind the scenes, but I unfortunately can’t share it publicly just yet! I hope this shows how we take product safety issues like this on Amazon and Ebay seriously.

@patrick Patrick – Sorry I missed your post. For me, this is Which? at its best. A serious safety problem has been identified and dealt with promptly. But, as I mentioned elsewhere, will Amazon and eBay contact those who have already purchased non-compliant carbon monoxide alarms. Only when I have seen evidence that this has been done successfully will I believe what these companies have said about this issue.

I also appreciate that Which? is devoting resources into improving product safety, but when will we see an end to products being sold with the wrong plug, by Amazon and others?

“There’s other work we’re doing on this behind the scenes”

You are probably unaware that Which? has in the past decade talked of speaking to the parties concerned etc. and we never see anything following the statement. I of course will be pleased if something is announced but I am having trouble thinking why anything need be behind the scenes – transparency is a much appreciated attribute especially when we fund the organisation.

I had hoped that if any distributor sells life critical devices they will be liable for their efficacy. This may mean that the supply is restricted but in the interests of saving lives that is a small price to pay.

Just received an electrical appliance via Amazon and noted that previous buyers received one with an American plug fitted. Mine had NO plug (cut off) so Amazon are nearly there.!!!

Companies are not allowed to sell products without a mains plug for domestic use: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/1768/contents/made

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Placement error.

@gmartin, Hello George. This (https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/plugs-two-pin-british-amazon-electrical-appliances/#comment-1534651) is yet another example of Amazon seemingly breaking the law by contravening the Plug and Socket regulations. At what point will Which? act to get the authorities to prosecute them? Many of us – socketman I think was key figure – have been asking for this malpractise to be stopped for years now, but Which? appears unwilling to take any action. Perhaps now it is time it shows it really is there to protect consumers?

How much does Which? Ltd receive from Amazon annually? Is this the answer to Which?’s response?

In case you wondered in my gut feel is a low figure of going towards a million pound, it could be more. Which? Ltd also receives money from pricerunner.com so showing the combined figure in the Accounts would not be a commercial secret.

As we are aware from the Whirlpool saga there is a Trading Standards Department somewhere in England and Wales which should be responsible for action. A judicial review of their lack of enforcement would seem germane.

I believe that Hertfordshire County Council are the responsible authority for Amazon, Patrick. On Which?’s doorstep.

@patrick, Hello Patrick. I’ve posted a comment in the CO alarms convo regarding the control of dangerous and fraudulent products sold under the canopy of Amazon and Ebay. Essentially I believe they need to be heavily penalised when they allow such sales as the only way to make it not worth their while (along with other errant traders). I, and I think some others, wonder why Which? are so reticent in attacking this serious consumer safety issue. https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/carbon-monoxide-the-cause-for-alarm/#comment-1534958

I just purchased a Delonghi coffee machine from alternate.co.uk and when it arrived it had a 2-pin plug. When I complained they stated that they are a German company selling German products, so of course it has a German plug.

How should the regulations work in this scenario?

I can see a that they cannot apply if the consumer goes out of their way to order a foreign product from a foreign company, but in this case the website is in English, the TLD is co.uk, the prices are all GBP, and none of the product descriptions mention that they are not UK.

To me it seems that this company is deliberately masquerading as a UK site, and therefore should be subject to the regulations?

I agree. So far as I understand it, it is an offence to expose for sale in the UK an electrical appliance that does not comply with UK regulations. Various De Longhi products are on sale in the shops and on-line and they have UK three-pin plugs. You should report it to your local Trading Standards service and ask them to investigate and take action to prevent further sales.

I’m not sure about this. They are a German company and the UK bit presumably is to access their website in English. So I’m not sure they are masquerading as a UK company. Your transaction might be regarded as a direct import and, as no UK distributor is involved (who would have to comply with UK regulations re plugs) they may be acting quite legally.

I don’t believe they are masquerading as a UK company and it might turn on the interpretation of “exposing for sale”. That is why I suggest it be investigated by Trading Standards.

There is no reason why people cannot have an extension lead with a European 2-pin socket on one end and a UK 3-pin plug on the other. We need Socketman to guide us on this one.

I remember a similar query turned up some years ago when a correspondent had imported some specialist electronic musical equipment that came fitted with 2-pin plugs and he opted to use an extension lead to make the conversion. But in that case it was his deliberate choice to purchase the items so fitted. I formed the impression that Sprite [above] had – on the basis of the marketing – expected the coffee machine to be compliant with UK standards.

I agree with John. The fact that the company is not based in the UK is clear but they are showing prices in UK pounds and their website address ends in .co.uk

There are various reasons why the simple solution suggested by John is unsatisfactory, which is why the regulations only permit a plug converter that must be fitted at the time of sale and can only be removed with a tool. The coffee maker is likely to have a German Schuko plug, which has two pins but the side-contacts provide an Earth connection. I have seen examples of home-made leads made with two-core cable, sometimes of inadequate cross sectional area for the conductors. If the plug is removed from the extension cable then there are the same risks as if the goods were supplied with the wrong plug. The regulations are very sensible and we need companies that sell products to people living in the UK to adhere to them or face prosecution.

Thanks for the responses. Masquerading was probably the wrong word, but much like amazon.co.uk sell UK products and amazon.de sell German products, I had assumed the UK version of the site would be selling UK products, and although I had noticed that there were several different versions of the site for different countries, it did not occur to me that the main site was German, and it was simply English translation.

I agree with wavechange.

If you leave German Schuko plugs in place, then they can still fit into both safe adapters (if you are lucky enough to have any) and unsafe ones. Almost all of the ones readily avaiable in the UK will be in this latter category.

As an example of the latter, I have just connected a “spare” PC kettle lead with a Schuko plug into my world travel adapter. I could now easily plug this into a proper British 3 pin socket, but that would make the lead live without connecting its earth wire.

Many overseas companies will provide individual exports to the UK and take currency in pounds. However, i believe that as they do not come through a UK distributor the regulations do not apply. Unlike Amazon UK who are a distributor based in the UK. My view is that anything they provide or facilitate the provision of, as a “fulfilment service”, is their responsibility and they must comply with UK regulations.

Thanks Derek. You understand these issues, but most do not. Travel adaptors are often unsafe for the reason you mention.

When I was Senior Authorized Person (Electrical) for a certain high voltage lab, we sometimes used mains leads without earth connections, to combat electrical noise from earth loops. However, we did then operate under a strict safety protocol.

Many of us have done potentially dangerous things in a safe way, and it’s an understood and managed risk, like doing faultfinding on live electrical equipment or bypassing safety interlocks for diagnostic purposes. Musicians with little knowledge of electrical safety have been injured or electrocuted as a result of Earth connections having been disconnected to avoid mains hum.

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My comment about the use of an extension lead should have made it clear that it was an appropriate continental lead with sockets to suit the particular plugs on the music equipment; the continental wall plug was cut off and a UK 3-pin plug fitted. It was not stated whether there was earth continuity. Assuming there was I cannot see any particular problem with such an arrangement in such non-domestic applications even if, technically, supply of the products into the UK was non-compliant. Nonetheless, the warnings are well-made and in the interests of public safety we must not compromise on compliance.

Thanks John. There was nothing personal intended by my comment.

John, I assumed you meant that.

Any such arrangement would be suitable for use by sensible grown ups but would not “engineer out” potential hazards to others.

Hence UK Regulations do not condone such arrangements.

So I emailed Trading Standards and this was their response…
“…if the company is directing sales to the United Kingdom market, they should ensure that the electrical goods sold are compliant with the UK regulations. As far as we are aware, the goods sold to UK market should either come with the UK three pin plug or with a two pin plug and an adapter which can only be removed using a tool. Please note, however, that it may be difficult to argue that the company is directing sales to the United Kingdom and that the company may wish to argue that merely stating the UK delivery address does not mean that the item is intended to be used in the same country.”

Alternate did offer an adaptor when I complained, so seems that they were compliant whether they were selling to the UK, or just delivering to UK.

That reply seems a little limp as if they really thought an item was being used outside of the UK then it should mention the plug fitted might be US or European , or even give an option.

However they seem to be English based and market in sterling so for the want of any contrary information they are selling products into the UK which are not in accordance with regulations.

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…and Trading Standards actually said “As far as we are aware”? They mean they don’t know?

That is the sort of response a trading standards department would give if they didn’t want to do any more about it. I would have preferred them to have said the product was exposed for sale in the UK, marketing and delivery information was appropriate for sale into the UK, and for all practical purposes it was a non-compliant UK sale. They should then have undertaken to investigate the case and the seller and taken any further enforcement action that might be justified. Why not let the courts decide whether or not the sale was illegal?

First, you were lucky to get a reply from trading standards. But second, they appear uninformed. The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 clearly state:

Prohibitions on supply etc. of electrical devices
5. No person shall supply, offer for supply, agree to supply, expose for supply or possess for supply an electrical device unless the requirements of regulation 6 below are satisfied in relation to it. “

Which means fitted with a UK 3-pin plug to BS 1363 or fitted with a plug complying with IEC 884-1 and a conversion plug removable only with a tool.

I presume the responsibility may revolve around whether the supplier, “Alternate” – were directly offering this for sale in the UK, or whether they were found in Germany by a search. They seem only to have a German base. Buying from another country directly and importing it personally, not through a UK distributor, may leave the responsibility with the consumer.

However, I do not see how we should only pick on Alternate, yet let Amazon off the hook who are serial offenders in this. They not only offer for sale products that turn up with illegal plugs, through their market place at the very least, but they facilitate such sales and the delivery and also get paid.

DTI guidance:
The Regulations are enforced by the local authority trading standards authorities.

Penalties: It is an offence to supply devices or electrical equipment which do not comply with the requirements of the Regulations. The Consumer Protection Act 1987, lays down penalties for an offence against a Safety Regulation as made under Section 11 as imprisonment for up to six months or a fine not exceeding level five on the standard scale (currently £5,000) or both.

I look forward to seeing Mr Amazon sent to jail and them fined £5000 for every offence That might make them stop their dangerous sales.

Which? Are you in agreement?

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The critical point is that they have to comply with UK law for anything they sell, or expose for sale, in the UK.

In my opinion, “exposing for sale” means allowing it to be offered via their Marketplace, advertising it, taking orders for it, undertaking fulfilment functions, and providing both customer and seller support services.

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I assume what Amazon (US) are telling you is that if you buy direct from their operation you will be supplied (I hope, anyway) with products meeting the US safety regulations, but not necessarily those of other countries or areas (e.g. the EU). Just the same as if you go direct to a Hong Kong supplier and buy a product. They have no obligation to ensure it meets UK (EU) regulations. Whereas if you buy from a local Amazon they are responsible for compliance with local regulations.

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I’d regard Amazon, when they don’t supply direct but via their “marketplace”, as a “fulfilment service” which as I see it makes them responsible in the EU’s view. They warehouse, provide a platform for advertising, take payment, distribute and make a profit. So they should exercise due diligence in checking the credentials of the products they distribute. I believe one of the slimes was not CE marked even, which I presume it should have been. If so, a fundamental contravention of EU regulations.

Time they were held to account (and not supported by Which?).

I’m interested in this conversation as I have recently purchased an electrical mains domestic appliance from E-Bay which not only has an American plug but is only for use on 110-120 volt supplies. I am involved in returning this product; the seller has offered to pay for me to buy and fit an English plug but I don’t think that is the point. Can someone offer me guidance as I think the whole situation has potential dangers for other potential purchasers.

If the product is really intended for this voltage it is likely to go ‘bang’ if plugged into our 230V mains. However, many small electrical goods are designed to work on 100-230V and on both 50/60Hz, so will work fine. If so, the supplier should have fitted a ‘converter plug’ that encases the US plug (NOT and adaptor and NOT provide one for the customer to fit.)

We have been waiting for years for Which? to push for Trading Standards to deal with this problem, Peter. There are various safety issues that have been mentioned in the many pages of this Conversation. I suggest you ask the seller to provide a refund and a returns label so that you can send the offending item.

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Thanks for your replies; The item in question is a Sous Vide, a type of temperature controlled food agitator and cooker in one so is intended to be used in liquids. It arrived in a package with two small boxes on the side indicating the voltage it’s to be used with and the 110-120v box is ticked. Also the barcoded label ‘type’ label is printed 110-120v and the label on the item itself is clearly marked 110-120v. The item is advertised inferring it’s dual voltage. I’m in the process of doing the return process but I thought there is a much bigger issue here in that someone could be seriously hurt if they attempted to use this. Not only should I, and will get a refund but this seller must be prevented from from further sales.

Seems to me if enough of us order these items and return then Amazon is going to notice. And the supplier may find it unprofitable quite quickly.

We could keep a running total here and encourage others to play the game.

Peter, did you choose a UK supplier – or were they just somewhere “out there” on the ‘net?

(If I shop online, I prefer to deal with UK suppliers if I can.)

Patrick, what you’re proposing sounds like quite a lot of effort.

Given that many seem to love Amazon as their gateway for home bargains, it might be hard for any such grassroots action to gain critical mass.

As a (retired) electrical safety guru, what bothers me most is the likelihood that many Amazon customers will opt for the pragmatic but unsafe option of powering their kit via shaver adapters or unearthed visitor adapters.

Peter said in his original comment that the product was purchased on E-Bay.

Personally, as well as going through the returns process, I would contact Trading Standards and inform them about this product.

Offering for sale an electrical product with a plug that is not compliant with the UK regulations is illegal, but from a public safety viewpoint the use of a low voltage appliance in the UK 230V electrical supply [without voltage correction] poses more serious risks. The trader clearly did not give any warning of that and their recommended remedial action [cut off the American plug and fit a UK type] would not have removed the hazard. I suppose if challenged they would offer a transformer to step down the UK voltage to the correct level for the appliance.

This sort of trading has to be stopped. Perhaps National Trading Standards or the Office of Product Safety and Standards should take it on if Which? cannot make any headway on it.

I am afraid , given the inaction of the consumer bodies, that people have to organise to effect change. That is what the original members of the Consumers’ Association did. From small beginnings …. it would help if Which? did a major article on the dangers and their correspondence with offending providers and the Trading Standards offices “involved”.

Also it is not necessarily hugely difficult to make life difficult for a rogue company as it is the profit element that will be suffering from the returns. In any event the action should be crafted especially for each rogue company to account for the despatch method.

Thanks for letting us have some more information, Peter. The eBay seller is clearly incompetent in suggesting that fitting a different plug will solve the problem, on top of supplying a product unsuitable for the use in the UK. I suggest that you contact Citizens Advice and ask to be referred to your local Trading Standards office, in the hope that action is taken.

It would also be worth informing eBay that a trader is selling a product that does not comply with this UK legislation: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1994/1768/contents/made

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Put simply, it is very easy for dishonest buyers to defraud sellers on eBay.

Where is the quote from, Duncan. At one point I thought it might be from e-Bay itself but it is more likely to be from a group that represents sellers.

I recall there were a lot of complaints to a Which? Conversation from buyers who were dissatisfied with the way in which the protection scheme worked for them and denied them redress because e-Bay took the side of the seller [unjustifiably in the eyes of the complainants but we only had their side of the story, of course].

My only contact with e-Bay has been to occasionally look for unusual articles and there are always lots of e-Bay entries. I have never pursued them.

Duncan’s quotation seems to be from here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/four-pitfalls-buying-selling-ebay/

It’s so much easier if everyone provides a link when quoting information.

Thanks, Malcolm and Wavechange. That puts the quote in context.

A link can help but just knowing the identity of the person or organisation quoted is good enough in most cases.

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“Contracting entity and responsible authority within the meaning of the data protection laws for eBay members in the UK after 1 August 2017

eBay (UK) Ltd, 5 New Street Square, London, EC4A 3TW
Company number: 03726028
VAT ID No.: GB782325424”

It would be interesting if Which? Legal could tell us, when a company is registered in the UK, whether it is legally obliged to respect UK regulations, for example,appliances with 2 pin plugs or that do not comply with our voltage, when it is a party that plays a significant part in a transaction – hosting advertising, handling payment, providing a resolution service and so on.

Duncan – Your post that I referred to was, line-for-line, copied from the Telegraph Money article referenced by Malcom and Wavechange. That included a comment from eBay, but the complaints reported in the article were to the Telegraph’s own consumer advice section.

We don’t have any information on where the seller of Peter Coles’s cooking appliance was based so we cannot be sure they were not in the UK, although that is unlikely.

On the Which? Conversation, as well as buyers complaining about not getting redress against eBay sellers, I believe there were also some sellers complaining about deceitful buyers who got their money back and left them seriously out of pocket.

You don’t get this problem on the high street because you can see what you are buying and walk out with it. Many people who buy products from abroad, or via the internet, say it’s the only way you can get them. In general I don’t believe that, but I accept that for those with specialist requirements – and it’s usually in the hobby or personal interest area – it can be difficult to source what you want entirely from the UK. Hobbies and special interests generate obsessions and therein lies the trap. Passion to acquire something can drive out prudence and common sense.

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As they say, what goes around comes around.

I am surprised eBay published it because it was far from complimentary to themselves.

The internet has enabled people to copy and paste stuff all over the place without proper attribution or explanation of the details [as in the fact that the complaints reported had been sent to the Daily Telegraph newspaper].

If you were to buy an electrical appliance direct from an overseas supplier – like the USA – you may well get their “home grown” item unless they give you a choice of voltage. Maybe they simply sent the wrong one?
A heating device marked 110-120v should clearly not be used on a 230v supply unless you use a suitable step-down transformer.

The trader could have made a mistake and supplied the wrong voltage appliance, but they had an opportunity to rectify such a mistake when Peter contacted them. All they suggested was to replace the plug.

I still question whether it is legitimate for traders to offer for sale into the UK a product that does not comply with UK regulations even if the purchase is direct from an overseas supplier. It is surely their duty to make sure that mistakes cannot happen or to decline an order. My one reservation on this is that the normal voltage on a building site is 110 Volts and power supplies are stepped down to that level. Many trade tools and machinery are imported from America and other countries [albeit mainly sold through UK trade outlets] so there must be some discretion in the regulations to enable that. But the product in question in this case is for use in a domestic or professional kitchen where the normal power supply is at 230V.

Presumably the product was bought via the UK eBay in which case I’m sure UK electrical regulations apply, as John intimates.

It is worrying that Peter was just told to replace the plug, unless there were also a voltage change switch on the device, which in this case seems unlikely.

The reason I suggested the wrong version might have been supplied was that Peter says there was a 110-120v box that was ticked on the label. This suggests there was another box; I wonder what that read?

Far more control/monitoring of Amazon and eBay seems to be required. Please resurrect a proper Trading Standards organisation to police product safety properly.

When you shop on eBay, you can choose where you shop. I usually restrict myself to items and sellers within the UK, but that is not necessarily the default.

John – You mention 110V power tools for use on building sites. These are generally specifically made for use in the UK. It’s not a discretion but a requirement. The tools are fitted with IP44 rated (splash resistant) yellow plugs and run from isolation transformers (or generators) where the centre of the output winding is earthed, meaning that the maximum voltage that someone could come into contact with in the event of a fault is 55V.

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Another aspect of Peter Coles’s case that concerns me is that UK suppliers are constantly being undercut by traders who flout the regulations. I don’t suppose any enforcement action has ever been taken against any trader that has supplied to a UK customer a domestic appliance with a non-compliant plug. Retailers that do an honest job in procuring the correct product types and ensuring that they have the correct power leads, plugs and fuses are seeing their market being taken away from them by unfair trading on the internet.

Can you think of any such traders John…………..? A problem seems to arise when those who might report problems for enforcement have any links with traders, and promote them as suppliers. Unlike the way some others are dealt with, such as VW, Whirlpool, LINK, …………….

Simon says:
9 November 2018

I just had the same experience with Amazon – purchased directly from Amazon.co.uk – electrical item with both male (for power supply) and female (to power accessories could be plugged in) plugs.
Supplied in the UK with both plugs being moulded on 2 pin electrical plugs.
Amazon response was to offer £10 discount – no acknowledgement goods being unfit for purpose or recognition of Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994.

Contacted Citizens Advice Consumer Service (was directed there when i was truing to contact Trading Standards).

Worryingly they advised me that unless the item was specifically described as being supplied with a UK plug then the goods being supplied with a 2 pin plug were not mis-described.
Citizens Consumer Service had no knowledge of the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994 nor what I should do/whom i should contact in order to check the legality of the goods supplied in relation to this.

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Ordered a coffee machine from Amazon and it arrived super fast but with a two pin plug. Amazon offered to pay for an adaptor which we declined. When we asked to return it we were offered a replacement but when pressed about whether or not the replacement would have a UK compliant plug the advisor said it “should” but he did not know for sure. We cancelled and returned it today but I had to go to a post office to return it. Very annoyed and inconvenienced. It is not right that Amazon continue to flout rules and get away with it.

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Purchased a Bosch PBS 75AE belt sander and it comes with a 2 pin plug. If it is illegal to supply electrical items in the UK without a 3 pin plug why are Amazon still allowed to do so? This item was from Amazon direct and there is no mention in the product description of the wrong plug being supplied.

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This Conversation has been running for just over six years and it would appear that Which? has made no progress with Amazon in all that time. It is worth reading again the Introduction and the April 2014 update at the top of the page.

It would seem that the last response Which? received from Amazon was as follows:

At Amazon, we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience. All sellers on Amazon Marketplace must adhere to our selling guidelines. Any seller found to contravene those guidelines will be subject to action from Amazon including removal of product listings and their account. . . .

Since then there have been continuing reports of illegal sales of units with 2-pin plugs instead of the mandatory UK standard 3-pin 13A plugs. Amazon’s approach when challenged has usually been to supply a bulky converter plug into which the 2-pin plug has to be fitted. That does not override the illegality of the wrong provision in the first place but at least makes the use of the product safe, albeit such converter plugs are not particularly suitable for portable equipment and are best used if necessary on static appliances. Occasionally Amazon Marketplace traders have tried to get away with supplying a temporary adapter plug but no such item has approval under UK electrical regulations for permanent use.

Could Which? please make 2019 the year of resolving this long-standing issue? There have now been 1900+ comments on this Conversation and the scandal continues. On Amazon I place the blame but to Which? must go the shame. It started this Conversation and built up our hopes but has arguably been delinquent in pursuing it to a satisfactory conclusion.

I think we need to push Which? for answers from Trading Standards or the Office for Product Safety and Standards. If you read through all the comments on this and other Convos about plugs, Amazon has despatched goods with the wrong plug, as well as their Marketplace traders.

I wonder how many people will soon receive a Christmas gift with the wrong plug. It’s a safety issue and not just a matter of convenience.

I see that David Peacock has died: https://www.theiet.org/membership/member-news/obituaries/obituary-news/david-peacock-fiet-july-1947-november-2018/. At one time he posted many comments in this Conversation, under the name ‘Socketman’, supporting the need to comply with regulations relating use of plugs in the UK.

Reading back through his comments it really comes across at how much he dedicated his life to electrical safety. I wonder how many people owe him their lives due to the campaigning he did.

David was responsible for the PlugSafe website, which draws attention to dangerous electrical products: http://bs1363.fatallyflawed.org.uk/index.html David took early retirement and was able to devote his energies to public safety. Among our membership there must be many members who would be happy to share their expertise and work together to support the work of Which?

I really love this idea and it is something we are working on to work out how it would work and how we could recognise people’s contributions. You and the other regulars already do a sterling job along these lines on such a wide range of issues!

It is a suggestion made many times. You could contact Members to see who would be willing, their expertise and interests. Maybe start with those who belong to Which? Connect and advertise in the magazine to make subscribers aware of the request.

Lee says:
16 May 2019

I just received a Panasonic TZ95 camera from Amazon with a two pin plug in the box and no English manual.

Amazon doesn’t seem to care much about the inconvenience to me, they DO seem to really want the camera returned!

Will be reporting them to Trading Standards…

Nice to see that Sainsbury’s may have become more aware of the safety issues involved when EU visitors want to use their earthed appliances over here.

Imaging my surprise on finding a proper earthed EU/UK visitor adaptor on sale here in sunny Gloucester:


@DerekP, Derek, the link took me to two cups of coffee 🙂 Was this the adaptor? Masterplug Visitor to UK Travel Adaptor

It’s this one that Derek is referring to:


Always read the label before consuming or using the product. 🙂

Designed for European travellers visiting the UK, this travel adaptor converts European 3-pole earthed plugs to fit UK sockets. Sleek, compact and light, it is simple to use and easy to pack.

That’s the one.

Sorry about the length of my previous stub link – they usually come out shorter than that, as shown by Wave.

Having eyeballed the product in store, it does indeed have the required earth contacts.

I wonder how many people would look for the Earth contacts.

It would help if Sainsbury (and other companies) provided a link to the manufacturer’s website, which can provide more information and photos of the product: https://go.travel/uk/electricals/eu-uk-adaptor

Derek – Can you say why you don’t post full links in Which? Conversation? I wonder if you are not keen on links in principle because of security issues or whether Which? have never put you on list of regular contributors who are trusted not to post dodgy links? The same applies with Beryl if she is reading this.

Wave – if a post a full URL, the post automatically goes into moderation and then may not appear at all or only after some considerable time, thereby missing any active conversation.

@abbysempleskipper Hi Abby – Please could Derek be added to the list of those who can post without his posts having to await moderation. Maybe there are others who post links and have proved themselves trustworthy but whose posts are still vetted.

I could be wrong, but I wonder if Derek’s frequent posting ‘unlogged-in’ is at least partly responsible? MySql has no idea who he is if he’s not logged in, and therefore can’t add the appropriate permissions. Just thinking out loud, and I could be way off beam.

That’s a bit strange! Sorry about this Derek, you shouldn’t be going into moderation every time you share a link. I’ll have a look to see what might be causing this to happen, and we’ll move these out of moderation as fast as possible so you don’t miss out on the conversation.

Jon, thanks for looking into this. I’m not too bothered by sometimes having to post stub links, but I accept that posting full links would make it easier for others to go to exactly the url that I’m highlighting.

Usually, I’ll only want to post a link after visiting myself – so it will have been vetted by any available safe browsing security on what ever device I’m posting from, but nothing beyond that. I hope that all live links posted here on W?C are checked and passed by Which?’s own security software, not least as a safeguard for any readers who may not have equivalent good security on their own devices.

That said, I’ve always found it odd that some regular users seem to be allowed to publish links in real time while others cannot.

It’s ‘cos we’re whisk free.

Or whisk fwee, even.

Perhaps whisk awerse?